Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting things you can do. If you’re planning a lesbian wedding or a gay wedding, there may be templates dictated by hundreds of years of tradition that you choose to either embrace or ignore. The beauty of same sex weddings is that nobody is going to turn around and tell you that you’re breaking the rules because it’s up to you how closely you choose to follow those old-fashioned patterns and etiquette rules. As a couple, you may decide to stick to a more traditional plan, or you may want to switch things up and create a day that is unique to you. If you’re in the midst of planning a day to remember, here are some tips you may find useful.
Is it really different?
Weddings for heterosexuals have centuries of tradition to draw on when it comes to marriage, services, dress codes and everything else. But given that gay and lesbian weddings are a relatively new thing, you will often find that you have to make things up as you go along. This isn’t a terrible, thing, of course, but it does mean that you have a lot more work involved when it comes to the planning stages. Let’s assume that you are sketching out some lesbian wedding ideas. Sure, you have the service, location, and reception plans to arrange – as does everyone else. But you also have to make a decision on who wears what. Will you go down the traditional route and have a bride and ‘groom?’ Will you both turn up wearing white or ivory dresses? Or will you give up on tradition altogether and wear what you please? And all your choices will have an impact further on down the line. Will you have a best man or a best woman? Will there be page boys and bridesmaids on one side or both? And what will they wear for your big day? As you can see, there is a lot to consider, so the earlier you start, the better.
The benefits of same-sex marriages
As we mentioned above, the cool thing about gay and lesbian weddings is that it is entirely up to you what you do. There are no concerns about throwing the big event exactly how you want it, and there are no ‘must haves’ other than arranging the legal side of the ceremony. Whether you have gendered roles or whether you don’t, you are free to reinvent everything, from beginning to end. That means you can call what traditional folk would call the bridal party your ‘bridal crew,’ or it could say that you forego other things like the best man’s speech altogether and both step up to the mic during your reception.
Get your outfits early
One of the best gay wedding ideas to get sorted as soon as possible is deciding on what you want to wear. Tuxes or suits are both easy to hire or buy closer to the time, but if either of you is planning on wearing a dress, it’s important to start looking sooner rather than later. The closer you get to your big day, the fewer options you will have – it’s a simple as that. And if you are both wearing dresses, it’s going to be double the trouble! Also, you have to make the decision about themed outfits for your bride and groom parties quickly, to give people time to find the right sizes of clothing and ensure that everything looks good. Bear in mind that if you are getting anything custom made, it’s going to take months rather than weeks – so get your consultation early.
Find the right location
Gay marriage was declared legal back in 2015, which was a remarkable victory for equality. But bear in mind that although the laws are in place, there are still plenty of ignorant people who may feel threatened or act homophobically – including those that might own or rent out the reception areas you want to use for your celebration. This point is particularly the case if you live outside of the most cosmopolitan cities. So, make sure you have a long, hard look around for the right location – even if it means traveling. While you should have your celebration wherever you want, you don’t want anyone to ruin the big day.
Finding a venue
It’s 2017, and you should find that most venues are accepting of all couples, regardless of whether you’re looking to host a lesbian wedding, a gay wedding, or a heterosexual marriage. Nevertheless, you may come across some venues that you find more accommodating to same sex weddings than others. When you first start considering your options, do some research online, ask around for recommendations, and have a look at some real-life gay wedding ideas in magazines. You may be surprised at the number of locations available and the diversity on offer. Even if you think you know what you want exactly, it’s always good to be open-minded at the beginning. You may want that fairytale castle or that rustic barn, but you might be surprised by how you feel when you look around a city center hotel or a quirky restaurant. You may be able to narrow down your options based on the size of your party, cost, and availability. If there’s no flexibility with a date, for example, make sure you only include venues that are free on your desired date on your list.
Make some calls, arrange some viewings, and try and create a shortlist. You may fall head over heels in love with one place, and decide that you don’t even need to see any more. In other cases, you might find yourself torn between a few options. Take your time, go back and see the contenders again, and go with the venue that gives you butterflies.
Book the services early
It’s the same principal for the services you use. While business owners will face fines if they refuse to do something like make your wedding cake, for example, there’s still a chance it might happen. And while you are planning your wedding, you just don’t need the hassle – there are plenty of other businesses around that will happily provide a first-class service for your big day, without any thought about it at all. Support these companies, and forget about the bigots – they honestly aren’t worth your time. Report them to the authorities for discrimination, of course, but try to avoid getting stressed about it – the focus should be on you and your partner planning the perfect day, and nothing should get in the way of that fact. And anyway, it’s their problem: the same-sex wedding industry is worth somewhere in the region of $2.5 billion to the economy, so if they want to miss out on your cash and get a fine for their trouble, it’s down to them!
So, now the big question – how do you design the perfect service for you and your partner? A wedding day is all about a celebratory day which is an experiential manifestation of your relationship. And it’s something that you should both discuss at great lengths because, despite your closeness and love, you will still find there are things one of you is comfortable with, and the other isn’t quite so sure. As we mentioned above, the only thing you have to plan ‘traditionally’ is the legal part of the ceremony, that will go down on record to cement your relationship in the eyes of the law. But that means the world is your oyster, and there are no limits – which can be problematic. And when you are both super busy trying to find time to plan while working all hours of the day, it’s going to be tough to make decisions! If you are struggling to work out how your day will pan out, it’s worth hiring a wedding planner. An experienced director will talk to you get to know you and your relationship, and advise you on the best route to take. Yes, there will be a fee, but it will only be a percentage of your budget – and they may even be able to find you some great deals from their big black book of contacts.
Who to invite
Many gay couples come up against difficulties when they come out to friends or family when they introduce new partners or share news of their engagement. The reactions you get from those closest to you may affect your relationships, and you may decide that you don’t feel comfortable inviting some people to your wedding. It can be difficult to put a guest list together if there are individuals who haven’t been wholly supportive of your relationship. If you’re anxious about certain people being there, or you’re worried that they wouldn’t want to attend, you can do one of two things. You could decide not to invite them, and if they ask for reasons, explain that you don’t feel that they’ve been as accepting as they could have been, or you could extend the invitation and leave the ball in their court. It may be a good idea to speak to a friend or family member who you’re thinking of leaving off the list beforehand, explaining the situation, and see what they say. They may not even know that you feel the way you do, and this could be a chance to build bridges before the big day.
Deal with ‘difficult’ guests
Just like there are ignorant people in business, there will also be ignorant people in your family circles. But the awesome thing about your wedding is that you don’t have to give a damn. It’s your big day, not theirs, and if you have any extended family members who are going to cause you trouble, forget about them. Or, send them an invitation anyway – the chances are they won’t come, and you can be comfortable that you have been fair.
Tell people what to expect
If you want to have the perfect day, make sure everyone knows what to expect. Sure, you can keep some surprises back, but you need to signpost the major events as they happen and ensure that everyone has directions and transportation from location to location, if necessary. The last thing you want on your big day is to have to deal with problems and issues, so make sure everyone has an itinerary and has plenty of time to plan between receiving the invite and the big day itself.
Finally, your celebration will be a much nicer experience for both of you if you can be as flexible as possible. We all have our different romantic notions of a wedding day, and while you and your partner will have a perfect, dream idea for your big day, you have to be big enough to drop the occasional idea if it turns out to be unworkable or unaffordable. Stick to your budget, too. Yes, you might want to host the most glamorous wedding this millennium, but if you are going to end up in debt, it will not be worth it. Good luck with the planning – and enjoy your big day!
Planning your ceremony
The ceremony is the focal point of any wedding. As a same-sex couple, you may not be able to marry legally in church, depending on where you live, but you can still involve religious elements in your ceremony if religion plays a significant role in your lives. If you’re having a civil ceremony, for example, nothing is stopping you from having a reading from a holy book. If you don’t want any religious elements, that’s fine. You can plan a ceremony based on ideas you’ve seen at other weddings or inspiration from magazines or the Internet, or you can create a template yourselves. Provided that the procession meets legal criteria, you have free reign over what goes into the ceremony. You can choose readings or poems, decide whether or not to write your own vows, include music and invite as many people as you want to participate. It is possible to ask somebody close to you to act as an officiant if you would prefer this option to a registrar. If you plan your own ceremony, this gives you a chance to add personal touches and create a unique event, which will provide you with lasting memories. There’s nothing wrong with using vows written by others, but if you know what you want to say, writing your own may carry more meaning.
Choosing your wedding party
When a bride and groom are getting married, it’s traditional for the bride to choose the bridesmaids and the groom to select the ushers and the best man. With gay weddings, it’s up to you who you include in your wedding party. You may want to choose a few friends or family members to be bridesmaids and ushers, or you may just want to keep the party very small with a close friend as a best man or maid of honor. Have a think about who you want to be around you on your special day. If you do want to have a party, there are some brilliant ideas online to help you ‘propose’ to your bridesmaids and ushers. If you look at sites like Pinterest, you’ll find everything from balloon messages to customized invitations.
Don’t forget the honeymoon
It’s all too easy to spend months planning your wedding day, and only a few days choosing your honeymoon destination. But you need to plan things more carefully than you might think, particularly if you’re going to a destination you have never been before. Even the best wedding day the world has ever seen can be soured somewhat by a terrible honeymoon experience, so put aside enough time to do some vetting. There is a whole host of things that could potentially go wrong. You might turn up at a resort and learn there is building work outside spoiling your view. The pictures in the brochure you used to book your trip away might be vastly different to the experience in the hotel when you get there. And, of course, don’t forget that some countries you might want to visit have laws that aren’t quite as liberal as those we enjoy here.
Bachelor and bachelorette parties
When you’re planning a heterosexual wedding, it’s common for the bride to have a bachelorette party and the groom to have a bachelor party. With same-sex weddings, you can choose to have a joint or individual celebration. If you have mutual friends, yet tend to spend all your time with the same group of people, you may want to have a joint party. If you have different friends or just want the chance to be the center of attention for the weekend, why not organize separate celebrations? It’s up to you who you invite to celebrate with you. Once you’ve decided what you want to do, choose a date and send out some invitations. If you love surprises, why not leave planning the weekend to your best man or bridesmaids?
Your wedding outfits
Many gay couples choose to put their personal stamp on traditional wedding get-ups. If you don’t want to wear dresses or suits, you don’t have to. It’s your wedding day, and you should feel comfortable and confident. If you’re not a girly girl, and you’d never usually wear a dress in day to day life, don’t feel like you have to wear one just because it’s your wedding day. If you’re unsure, try some different options, have a look at some lesbian wedding ideas online, and see how you feel. You may surprise yourself and love the dress, or you may not feel like you in it. It’s up to each of you to choose an outfit. You can do it as a team, or you can surprise your partner on the big day.
Who sits where?
Often, when you go to a wedding, you’re advised to sit on the left for the bride and the right for the groom. As with any wedding, think about who you want to sit where. You could assign a side to each partner and tell your ushers to direct your guests in the appropriate direction, or you could reserve the first few rows for family and your closest friends and have an open policy for the rest of the seats. If you don’t have groomsmen, you can use signs to point people to their seats, or you could draw up a seating plan.
The wedding procession
The procession is the most exciting part of the day. That moment when you catch a glimpse of the person you love for the first time. When it comes to getting down that aisle, you need to think about who is moving where at what time. It’s traditional for the groom to wait for their bride at the bottom of the aisle. You can choose to follow this pattern and one partner wait for the other, or you could walk in from different sides of the ceremony room, meet in the middle, and process together. You may want a parent or a sibling to process with you, or you might prefer to walk down the aisle side by side.
If you’re a couple having a same sex wedding, planning it may not involve all the traditions and rules of a stereotypical heterosexual wedding, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take elements you like and design a day that is perfect for you. There may be additional considerations to bear in mind, and you may plan a day that is entirely different to any wedding anyone has ever been to before. Remember that it’s your day and you’re celebrating the love you share. Just focus on enjoying it and you’ll be fine!